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Justice is based on truth, on what really happened. That is a basic problem in law because facts are usually contested. Each side has their own story. The truth is out there but requires search to discover. Truth and justice thus depend upon effective search.
Truth in the law means objective, reliable facts that may be admitted as evidence in a trial. The testimony of witnesses is by nature inherently subjective. Testimony alone is an unreliable path to truth. Discovery of objective facts is often dependent on discovery of the writings made at the time by the people involved. Testimony taken later in legal proceedings, no matter how solemn the oaths, is filled with half-truths and, all too often, outright lies. Justice based on witness testimony alone is haphazard at best. Judge and jury must guess at who is lying. They are susceptible to lies, clever arguments, false hunches, publicity, and political pressures.
Judges and juries today often do not see the key writings they need to do justice. The fault lies with the lawyers who, in the U.S. system, are the ones charged with the duty to discover the truth. They often fail in this duty, not for want of trying, but for the difficulty in finding the key documents. The evidence is lost in plain view. The signal is lost in the noise – hidden by too much data. In many, perhaps even most lawsuits today, legal search efforts are neither effective nor affordable. This means our system of justice is in danger, for justice depends on truth and truth on legal search.
This is my core belief after a lifetime as a lawyer. This is why, despite the humor and inside jokes you may read here, I am dead serious, obsessed, and determined to change the way my profession goes about searching for evidence. That is why I now teach predictive coding methods on a regular basis. That is why I do searches for clients and do research on various predictive coding methods. This is why I have written over twenty-nine articles on predictive coding in the past year and a half. (They are listed at the end of this short essay as a convenient reference. Also see the new CAR page above that I recently added to my blog.)
Yes, I am obsessed, but it is worth it. Join with me in this obsession. Please share these articles with your friends and colleagues. Use them to help spread the word. Many of my readers already get it. I encourage you to give of your time to help teach the profession how to do legal search. In spite of all the noise in our data, it can be done in an effective and affordable manner, but only if we adopt radically new methods.
Empowering Lawyers with the Technology Needed to Find the Truth
The advanced predictive coding software and methodologies now coming to light empower lawyers to save our system of justice from the flood of irrelevant information. We now all carry around too much information, especially our large organizations. They typically keep more information in their computers than the largest libraries in the world. This sea of data unintentionally hides the few documents needed for the truth to be revealed in many lawsuits. That leaves many feeling frustrated, either as falsely accused or falsely denied; either way they are harmed and aggrieved by another, yet without a remedy in the courts.
Hidden in Plain View
The truth we need to resolve disputes is often hidden, lost in plain view among trillions of other bits of data and only accessible, if at all, by great expense or luck. When forced to resolve disputes on the basis of bad information, without the benefit of the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, justice is denied. We cannot survive for long as a civilization without justice. It is the glue that holds our society together. An unjust society will not stand.
Technology Got Us Into This Mess; Technology Can Get Us Out
Predictive coding type machine learning, when used properly, empowers lawyers to save our legal system from information noise. For the past decade the nearly insoluble needle in the haystack problem of evidence retrieval has gotten worse every year. We have not been able to find the evidence needed to do justice in an effective and affordable manner because of the problem of Too Much Information. But now the tide is turning.
This problem was brought on by the unprecedented, rapid advances in computer technology. Computers got our system of justice into this mess, and now, finally, computers can help us get out.
Law as a Calling
This is a core belief of mine: that there is a direct connection between truth and justice and truth and search. It is not based on supposition or theory. It is based on a lifetime of service as a lawyer. I have seen all too clearly the growing disconnect in the past two decades between resolution of cases on the merits, on full disclosure of the truth, and settlements based on incomplete disclosures and costs.
It is no wonder that trials are disappearing, that cynicism and distrust are so widespread. It is no wonder that the guilty often go free and the innocent are convicted. It is no wonder that more and more misguided people take crazed notions of justice into their own hands. Justice is not a game. It is an important and dead serious cornerstone of the American way of life.
Law is a calling, a profession, not a job. Our work is about justice, about truth. Join me in helping the profession to get through this technological crisis. Spend the time needed to master the new technologies and share what you learn for the betterment of the profession, of the world.
Here are the articles that I have written on the new, breakthrough methods of legal search. I hope they will be of some help to you in your search for truth and your subsequent sharing of what you know for the sake of justice. There can be no higher calling.
- Three-Cylinder Multimodal Approach To Predictive Coding
- Predictive Coding Narrative: Searching for Relevance in the Ashes of Enron in PDF form for easy distribution and the blog introducing this 82-page narrative, with second blog regarding an update
- Journey into the Borg Hive: a Predictive Coding Narrative in Science Fiction Form
- Bottom Line Driven Proportional Review (2013 Updated Version)
- The Many Types of Legal Search Software in the CAR Market Today
- Georgetown Part One: Most Advanced Students of e-Discovery Want a New CAR for Christmas
- Escape From Babel: The Grossman-Cormack Glossary
- NEWS FLASH: Surprise Ruling by Delaware Judge Orders Both Sides To Use Predictive Coding
- Does Your CAR (“Computer Assisted Review”) Have a Full Tank of Gas? (and you can also click here for the alternate PDF version for easy distribution)
- Analysis of the Official Report on the 2011 TREC Legal Track – Part One
- Analysis of the Official Report on the 2011 TREC Legal Track – Part Two
- Analysis of the Official Report on the 2011 TREC Legal Track – Part Three
- An Elusive Dialogue on Legal Search: Part One where the Search Quadrant is Explained
- An Elusive Dialogue on Legal Search: Part Two – Hunger Games and Hybrid Multimodal Quality Controls
- Random Sample Calculations And My Prediction That 300,000 Lawyers Will Be Using Random Sampling By 2022
- Second Ever Order Entered Approving Predictive Coding
- Predictive Coding Based Legal Methods for Search and Review
- New Methods for Legal Search and Review
- Perspective on Legal Search and Document Review
- LegalTech Interview of Dean Gonsowski on Predictive Coding and My Mission to Make Predictive Coding Software More Affordable
- My Impromptu Video Interview at NY LegalTech on Predictive Coding and Some Hopeful Thoughts for the Future
- The Legal Implications of What Science Says About Recall
- Reply to an Information Scientist’s Critique of My “Secrets of Search” Article
- Secrets of Search – Part I
- Secrets of Search – Part II
- Secrets of Search – Part III
- Information Scientist William Webber Posts Good Comment on the Secrets of Search Blog
- Judge Peck Calls Upon Lawyers to Use Artificial Intelligence and Jason Baron Warns of a Dark Future of Information Burn-Out If We Don’t
- The Information Explosion and a Great Article by Grossman and Cormack on Legal Search
Two more resources:
About the Author
Originally posted on e-Discovery Team® blog by Ralph Losey – a blog on the team approach to electronic discovery combining the talents of law, IT, and science. The views expressed are his own and not necessarily those of his law firm, clients, or university. Copyright Ralph Losey 2006-2012.
He also leads an online e-Discovery Team Training course that has become very successful over the last couple of years.